Daniel Craig may be James Bond, but as Tuvia Bielski, his performance could not be more important. Telling a true story is serious business and in Defiance, the tale is potentially life-changing.
Academy Award-winner Edward Zwick directs Craig, as well as a terrific Liev Schreiber, in one of World War II’s little-known stories.
Defiance begins as the Germans are making their advance across Belarus into the Soviet Union. Caught in the cross-fire are thousands of Jews that have a price on their head that has former neighbors turning into bounty hunters.
The Bielski brothers grew up on the outskirts of town. They were not very educated, but brilliant in the ways of the forest that served as their backyard. Schreiber and Craig are perfectly cast brothers. Watching them in Defiance compels the audience to learn more about the Bielski brothers.
The Defiance DVD and Blu-ray arrives June 2 and as this tale is close to him, we would love to give the film a resounding review. But, knowing the true story, seeing what Zwick has done with what was already stunning storytelling in its true form, leaves the viewer feeling shorted.
Where in Defiance the camp in the forest where these Jews lived in exile while they fought back against their Nazi attackers along with Soviet army help, in reality there were thousands that inhabited the naturally-wooded fortress. In Zwick’s film, the gravity of the numbers of souls that the Bielski brothers saved can never be fully realized because of the limit of the director’s scope.
When Daniel Craig becomes fetal in one scene, it becomes difficult to watch knowing that the real Tuvia Bielski would have done no such thing. Prior to this moment on film, in reality, Tuvia was set to make his final push in saving thousands of lives. As portrayed in Defiance, the watery trek appears to only mark several days -— not the 15 the survivors truly endured.
Here in a clip from the DVD extras, the family of the Bielski brothers talks about the real deals.
Don’t get us wrong — this is a compelling film worth watching. The true story is as unbelievable as it is inspiring. Even with its faults, Defiance is one of those films that must be watched, if for no other reason that its historical significance.